Decker Hunting Terrier

25-38 lbs
18-23"
Oregon
Decker, Decker Giant, Decker Rat Terrier, Decker Giant Rat Terrier

The Decker Hunting Terrier, as the name would suggest, is primarily bred for hunting. They are high-energy dogs that will benefit from pet parents that are going to use them for their intended purpose rather than just a family pet.

Although they can also make wonderful companions, especially if they get enough mental and physical stimulation. While they get on great with people and other dogs, they will chase after any creature they see as prey — so be aware of that.

In this guide to the Decker Hunting Terrier, you’ll learn:

  • This breed is primarily bred to be a hunting dog, rather than a companion 
  • The Decker Hunting Terrier was developed from the Smooth Fox Terrier and the Rat Terrier  
  • Their name comes from Milton Decker who developed the breed in the 70s 
  • They are friendly and playful dogs that get on well with children

Decker Hunting Terrier breed overview

This breed, which you may also hear referred to as Decker, Decker Giant, Decker Rat Terrier and Giant Rat Terrier, is named after Milton Decker who developed this hunting dog. While they are primarily used for hunting, they do make good farm dogs and can also settle into a life as a companion and family pet — as long as they get enough exercise. 

If you’re considering getting a Decker Hunting Terrier then you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $1,200, from a reputable breeder. However, you should note that while there are a few breeders that breed these dogs as family pets, most specialize in breeding them to be active hunting dogs, which many of them are. 

This is a very healthy and hardy breed with a long life expectancy, living up to 18 years. 

Although the Decker Hunting Terrier is known to have very few health issues, there’s a chance they could get injured, especially when hunting. Browse and compare the best pet insurance plans today for peace of mind that you are covered should anything unexpected happen. 

purpose Purpose
Hunting
history Date of Origin
1970s
ancestry Ancestry
Smooth Fox and Rat Terrier

Decker Hunting Terrier Health

Average Size
Male Decker Hunting Terrier size stats
Height: 18-23 inches Weight: 25-38 lbs
Female Decker Hunting Terrier size stats
Height: 18-23 inches Weight: 25-38 lbs

Decker Hunting Terrier Breed History


This is a relatively new breed, developed by Milton Decker in the 1970s near Eugene, Oregon. 

He’d got a three-year-old Smooth Fox Terrier mix named Henry — a cross between a Smooth Haired Fox Terrier named Frosty Dew and a farm dog named Jock — from a gardening supply store. He quickly started to appreciate the dog’s natural hunting instincts which included tracking, jumping deer, and treeing. He wanted to breed them and chose Rat Terriers. The aim was to maintain Henry’s calmer temperament and superior hunting instincts, as well as his slightly larger size. 

By the 1980s, the Decker strain was breeding true, and by 1993 Milton Decker was able to leave further development of the breed in the hands of other breeders. 

In 1995 the National Rat Terrier Association began listing the Decker line on its pedigrees. 

Decker Hunting Terrier Breed Appearance


The Decker Hunting Terrier size is, on average, larger than most Rat Terriers, but they are still a fairly small dog. They reach a height of 23 inches and a weight of 38 pounds. 

They’re slightly longer in body than they are tall, and the Decker Hunting Terriers are muscular dogs with strong legs and shoulders, a solid neck and a deep chest. Their tails can be long or short, and are sometimes docked. This is when most of the tail is removed. While it’s illegal in some parts of the world, in the US it’s only regulated in some states. This is done soon after the dog is born and is usually for cosmetic reasons. 

Their head has a smooth, blunt wedge shape with a strong, tapered muzzle that is slightly shorter than their skull. They have oval-shaped eyes that can be brown or hazel and have fairly large triangular ears that are positioned high up on the skull and stand erect. They also have slightly wrinkled lips compared to other Fox and Rat type Terriers. 

This breed has a smooth, shiny, close-lying coat. They are pied — so, mostly white with large patches of color such as black, chocolate, red, or blue. This can also be lemon or apricot, while tan points and badger markings are common too.

Similar breeds to the Decker Hunting Terrier

If the Decker Hunting Terrier isn’t the right for you but you’d like a similar breed, then you might like to consider: 



Whether you choose a Decker Hunting Terrier or a similar breed, caring for their health is one of the most important things you can do for them. 

Once you have chosen the pet insurance plan for you, why not sign up to a wellness plan too? This covers their routine appointments including annual shots and boosters. 


Decker Hunting Terrier Breed Maintenance

The Decker Hunting Terrier has a short, single-layer coat that’s fairly easy to maintain. It’ll shed moderately year-round, but brushing it once every one or two weeks with a slicker brush or grooming glove will help with this. 

They won’t require bathing too often. Instead, if they are dirty, you can simply wipe them with a damp cloth. When you do give them a bath, choose the shampoo carefully as they can be prone to skin allergies. 

Make sure to check, clean and dry their ears to prevent infections. Terrier breeds like the Fox Terrier and Rat Terrier that the Decker Hunting Terrier were developed from are also slightly more likely to get dental disease, so it’s important to clean their teeth regularly. You should also trim their nails when required. 

Decker Hunting Terrier health risks 

The Decker Hunting Terrier is generally a healthy breed with very few health issues. 

A few major concerns you should be aware of with this breed are: 

There’s also a chance of demodectic mange, skin allergies as well as eye diseases and disorders — but these are only relatively minor concerns. 

Does your pet insurance cover heart conditions? Browse and compare top pet insurance providers to ensure you have the best cover for your dog. 

Patellar Luxation

Patellar Luxation is when the kneecap becomes dislocated from the knee joint. This is usually hereditary. It can be present at birth although may not be noticed until they are around six weeks old — this is classed as congenital. If it develops later in life then it’s classed as developmental. It occurs most often in the back legs. Symptoms to look out for include limping, swelling and inability to bend the knee. There are four grades which will depend on the severity and they may require surgery to treat it. 

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia can occur in one or both hips. It may be something they get when they are older but it can occur from as early as 16 weeks. This is when the ball and socket rubs and grinds because it hasn’t formed properly in the hip joint. Working breeds are among the dogs most likely to be affected due to the strenuous activity. Their movement will be restricted and it will become very painful for them. Treatment may start with diet and weight management but oral supplements, physiotherapy and surgery are likely to be required too. 

Heart Conditions

There are several heart conditions your dog could get. They might get heart disease with the most common including, mitral valve dysplasia, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and enlarged heart (dilated cardiomyopathy.) Symptoms to look out for including coughing and breathlessness. There is a chance they could have heart failure or a heart attack while puppies can be born with a congenital heart defect. 

Treatment will depend on your dog’s specific heart condition, although it’s likely they’ll require medication. If you suspect they have a problem with their heart then they need to be seen by a vet as soon as possible.


Feeding a Decker Hunting Terrier — what’s the best diet?

The Decker Hunting Terrier is an active breed with high energy levels so needs food with the nutrients and calories to support this. They’re a small to medium dog, so food formulated for either small breeds or all life stages may suit them best. This can be wet, dry or a mixture of both.

They’ll benefit from a diet specifically formulated for working — or hunting — dogs. You should look for high-quality food that has protein as the main ingredient. It should also include vitamins and minerals that will support their joints especially as they are prone to issues with these. 

Decker Hunting Terrier puppies can be fed four meals as day and then this can be reduced to two once they are adults. Treats can be beneficial, especially when training them, but take this into account when serving up their meals. 

You’ll want your Decker Hunting Terrier to have the best possible diet. To help, check out our friends over at Dog Food Advisor for advice including the best dry food and the best wet food for dogs. 

Decker Hunting Terrier Temperament

The Decker Hunting Terrier has the typical temperament of the terrier — which can be lively and feisty. 

The breed is also a friendly and affectionate dog. They love to be with you and go wherever you go. They’re typically good with children, particularly if socialized with them at an early age. 

They also get on with dogs that are their size and bigger. Smaller animals — including dogs that are smaller than them — may be chased. 

This breed tends to be good with strangers but can also make good watchdogs. But, they tend to be slightly less yappy than other Fox and Rat Terriers. 

They’re quite alert, intelligent and attentive, which makes them fairly easy to train. This breed is inquisitive as well as being eager to learn and please their owner, so they tend to pick up on commands fairly quickly. Although, their prey drive can sometimes mean they get distracted. 

Decker Hunting Terrier dogs are energetic and playful. They don’t respond well to boredom or a lack of obedience training which can result in anxious, territorial, or destructive behaviors. It’s important to be firm, confident and consistent with this breed. They need to know you are the pack leader. 

They’re not really suited to living in an apartment and will do better in a house with a yard. However, they do like to dig so you should be aware that they could try and escape even if you have a fence. 

Decker Hunting Terrier Activity Requirements

Decker Hunting Terriers, like most terrier breeds, are very high energy dogs that require a lot of physical and mental stimulation throughout the day. They need a long daily walk or to join you on a jog as well as challenging games. Bear in mind this breed has a high prey drive and should be kept on a leash unless they are on the hunt or in a controlled environment as they may chase smaller animals.

They will, of course, excel at hunt-related activities as well as agility training and advanced obedience-centered activities. They also enjoy swimming and will be happy in the water. 

Decker Hunting Terrier Owner Experiences

Malibu
6 Months
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
This is our first Decker. We had a TRT (Type B Rat Terrier) for 13 years.
2 years, 3 months ago
Winnie Moo
3 Months
5 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
This is our first experience with this breed. We would love recommendations for teaching we need to calm down& The biting is constant and requires a lot of patience and discipline Any recommendations or thoughts would be greatly appreciated?
2 years, 3 months ago
Nala
14 Months
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Agility training
Running
Tracking
Extremely intelligent, obedient and active. Loves a job. Running endurance is very high. Easy to train and a loving family dog.
2 years, 3 months ago
Ranger
8 Weeks
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
So far he is learning quickly
2 years, 5 months ago
Brianna
4 Months
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Gets along well with grandkids and they love her. They help burn some of that energy she is full of. Has been doing very well with house training too. Loves to play with friends dogs.
5 years, 1 month ago
Nobu
7 Months
5 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
He is extremely high energy, ours is not calm at all but he is still a puppy. He is more energy driven than my Papillons. Gets along with all of our toy dogs and every person he meets. Stands at 16.5 inches at withers.
4 years, 11 months ago
Loki
3 Years
3 People
House
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
They are willing dogs...very lively and full of personality. Our young male seeks small children out to play with as they like to chase and that is his favorite game with kids or other dogs. He has an abundance of energy and is very friendly to all dogs and cats he encounters. Actually he is running for mayor of our village or so it seems.
4 years, 1 month ago
Livi
8 Years
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walk
Hike
Play
Run
As a puppy she was a nightmare, so much energy and too smart for her own good. Very rebellious and knew the lines she was crossing when she was crossing them. We had to be very firm and consistent with obedience training, and found that she was much more amiable when tired out with plenty of exercise and games that required more skill. She would get bored of fetch but loved hide and seek (hiding treats or ourselves around the house for her to find). Probably her hunting instinct, she seems like she would be very good for that but we have only had her as a family pet. She was very affectionate from the beginning and doesn’t bark unless threatened. Now that she’s mellowed out she is very gentle and has always been good with kids. Smart and loyal but still likes to push boundaries when she sees she can (getting on beds, coming in the kitchen to beg) that’s more our fault for letting her cuteness get to us. She doesn’t need as much exercise as she used to and she still loves as much attention as she can get. Not good at meeting new dogs but very friendly with familiars. (Neighborhood dogs, new puppies). Never really have to bath unless she gets muddy and shedding isn’t too bad if you brush, especially around seasonal changes. We love our livi girl and she has a toy poodle sister that she is very sweet to. Deckers are often cautioned to be kept from small dogs but this one does better with small ones than big because she doesn’t feel as threatened.
4 years, 1 month ago
Roo
7 Months
3 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Since he’s 7 months old and I am at the moment having hip surgery we go to large open areas and let him play fetch, etc. He usually runs the whole time and loves it. I eventually will get him trained to my bike so we can both exercise. I only hunt large game but he’s tracked rabbits before and was unable to catch them.
3 years, 10 months ago
Honey
7 Months
2 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Beach
Walking
Hiking
Jumping
Agility training
Had Honey for 3 weeks she is still a pup juSt 7 months old full of energy, extremely smart and eager to play and explore. She can be stubborn and moody when she doesn’t get her way. We been teaching her commands as well as fetching the ball and friSbee
3 years, 9 months ago
Harley
6 Months
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
She was purchased for breeding but found out she had developed red mange at birth. She’s normal on all aspects except may be able to pass this on to her pups, so we have elected to keep her as a family pet only.
3 years, 8 months ago
J
8 Months
1 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Incredibly intelligent and affectionate/friendly to new dogs and people. She learned to “drop” whatever she picked up before learning to “sit”. Nothing gets passed her, very alert. The most fun thing about this breed is their loud personality and takes commands quickly - mine is very playful and affectionate and at the same time can be independent. At 7-8 months tons of energy
3 years, 3 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
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